Monday starts – my dreaded nemesis. For as long as I can remember, I have declared bi-monthly that Monday morning will be the first day of the rest of my life. It always precedes a Sunday night of eating or drinking until pain ensues, cuing my lifelong habit of self-pity. And like clockwork, by Monday at three, I’d be lying in bed in pajamas pissed that the sun had the gall to shine while I attempt to sleep off my failure.
It started to get bad again after I quit a job that I despised in order to, I dunno, write the Great American novel. Considering I hadn’t even read the Great American novel (Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom has been getting dusty on my shelf for months now), it was obvious my intentions were hazy. Although my former job made me want to sprint into oncoming traffic, it gave me purpose. Now I was left to complete, and uh, start all the projects I would “get to” when I quit that god-forsaken job. But deep down, I didn’t think I could do it, so I didn’t even try.
On one bi-monthly Monday afternoon, my boyfriend called to check-in. “Hey, were you sleeping?” “No, I’m working,” I said in a groggy voice. “Ok, good luck.” He seemed concerned. “See you tonight.”
As I threw my iPhone across the bed, I felt worse. I blatantly lied to my biggest supporter in order to continue shaming myself. My boyfriend, who shall be known as Dave, is inexplicably driven, kind and I believe to be worth a great deal of money some day. I intend to hold on to him. If not for love, because I know he’ll buy all of my future lies.
The odd thing about this event and the billions of mid-day naps that came before it, is that despite my textbook behavior, I was not clinically depressed. I was acting like an (insert expletive here).
The night before, Dave witnessed another of my countless Sunday night episodes. He confronted me with, “Why do you do this to yourself? Do what you want to be doing. Just say it! You can’t work on it, if you don’t own it.”
Yep, it’s that simple for him. It was especially infuriating because I couldn’t say it aloud. “If you can’t say it, you’ll never get it,” he added. After much cajoling on his part and my resisting by trying to change the subject, I finally said it. Although timid and with tears in my eyes, I declared my greatest dreams aloud, terrified that another person would verbally crap all over it. “You can do it,” he urged.
And no, I am not going to tell you all what it is, not because I don’t respect you, but because it’s precious and nerve-wracking enough to publicly recounting this scenario. Let’s just say I have my work cut out for me.
We talked strategy until he declared, “I am so proud of you. Guess tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life.”
NO!, I thought. He cursed me. He spoke my doomed mantra aloud, spiraling me into another Monday I couldn’t live up to. It was not his fault. I’m crazy.
So, when Dave called on Monday, I was forced to acknowledge that I had reverted to my old habit of being, what I like to call, an absolute idiot. I was lying in bed in my usual slump because I had failed to produce a Joan Didion-esque manuscript by noon. Obviously, I deserved to die.
I started to cry until I heard “What the hell is your problem?!” Scarily enough, it came from my own head in the voice of my mother. It was comforting, yet called me out on my bull crap with a sniper’s precision. She is a no nonsense woman and on most days, that is how I live my life. So, indeed what the hell was my problem?
The truth is I have never faced a tragedy in my life. I have friends and family who love me. I am competent and I really do get things done. I have just never felt good about myself. Simple as that. And I imagine a lot of people feel the same.
In no way am I trying to coax sympathy because, trust me, I don’t take kindly to that. It’s just like Dave said, once you say it, you have a place to start.
As I lay in bed, I thought, “What if this is just a bad habit?” I have negative thoughts and anxiety attached to anything I do. There they are again, thoughts from a total (insert expletive). But if it’s just learned behavior, maybe I can ditch it. The answer: pushing harder on my follow through than most people have to. But maybe others secretly struggle with this? Or maybe people are blatantly lying about how much they get done? (I’m looking at you, Facebookers!)
I am who I am. That’s it. Riding that emotion, I climbed out of my comforter cocoon, sat at my computer and wrote this piece. As I’m sure you have gathered, I am not Joan Didion. But, who cares? Now that I’ve said it, I can move past the dreaded shame of not being someone else.
So..I push. And when I mean push, it’s the emotional equivalent of pushing an elephant up a water slide, every morning. But I am who I am. And I’ve said it aloud.
You can read more from Alex Mack on her blog.